Market Reports

Indianapolis steps into the national spotlight this Friday as the host city for the NBA All-Star Weekend 2024, a hotly anticipated event that brings together the top talent from across the pro basketball world for a high-profile celebration of sport and community. As the 28th largest media market in the US, with a population of just under 3M, Indianapolis offers a vibrant backdrop for this basketball extravaganza: it’s hosted 450 national and international sporting events, a testament to its dedicated fan base and growing importance on the national sports scene.

Pepsi holds the most sponsorships in the market with 10 deals––though curiously, none are with Indy’s major pro sports teams. The beverage giant instead opts to partner with colleges and motorsports rights holders, including the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Local brands like the Hoosier Lottery and electric company AES Indiana––with 9 and 7 deals, respectively––both endorse the Indianapolis Colts and the Indiana Pacers, further highlighting the city’s diverse sponsorship ecosystem.

Among rights holders, the Colts lead with an impressive portfolio of more than 130 sponsorship deals––a notable 37% of which are with local brands. The total branded social engagement across the Indianapolis media market is nearly 8M, with the Colts and the Pacers collectively driving half of this engagement. This considerable digital footprint reflects both these teams’ strong market presence, and the outsize role sports play in the cultural and economic fabric of the city called the “Crossroads of America.”

The NASCAR Cup Series Championship will culminate in a thrilling weekend at Phoenix Raceway on November 4–5, as the final four championship drivers vie for the ultimate prize, following a long and grueling season. As NASCAR fans gear up for the high-octane action, let’s survey the sponsorship landscape in the Arizona city.

With 11 deals each, Coca-Cola and Arizona Public Services top the list of brands with the most sponsorship deals in Phoenix. The beverage behemoth’s local partners include the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Rising FC, while APS has partnered with teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns. Closely trailing in third place with nine deals is the Casino Arizona Talking Stick Resort, which sponsors the VRBO Fiesta Bowl and the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, among other properties.

Arizona Diamondbacks leads rights holders with most partnerships in the Phoenix market, at more than 100 deals. The 2023 National League champions partner with BMW, GEICO, and Topps, among other top-tier brands. The Guaranteed Rate Bowl claims the second spot with a total of 87 partnerships. Played in Arizona since 1989, the college football bowl game has deals with boldface companies like Nike, Oakley, and Maestro Dobel Tequila. With 84 endorsements, the Phoenix Suns take third place on the podium. The high-profile NBA franchise boasts the three largest deals in Phoenix by number of assets, in partnership with PayPal, Verizon, and Gila River Resorts & Casinos.

The Phoenix market racked up more than 10M engagements across all social media in the last year. TikTok star Savanah Moss—who has three deals with CeraVe, Clash of Clans, and Paramount Pictures—is the most followed property, with 13.1M across all platforms. Moss’s TikTok post with CeraVe was the market’s most engaging post, at 260K interactions.

Major League Soccer’s top talents faced off against Premier League club Arsenal in last night’s MLS All-Star Game 2023—presented by Target since 2017—held at Audi Field in Washington DC. The high-profile English squad handily beat the stateside standouts 5-0, marking Arsenal’s second appearance—and victory—in the matchup, having won its first showing 2-1 in 2016.

In homage to the transatlantic contest’s host city, let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship market in our nation’s capital.

GEICO is the market’s most active brand with 16 deals, including partnerships with the Washington Capitals, Commanders, Nationals, and Wizards. Coca-Cola trails the insurance giant with 13 sponsorships, followed by Capital One with 12—naming rights to the Washington Capitals' home ice, the Capital One Arena, among them. Notably, Steamfitters 602, a local union with more than 5,000 members, is the only brand that sponsors all five of the city’s major pro sports franchises.

With nearly 160 partnerships, the Washington Capitals are the most active property in the DC market. Capital Pride Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community, takes second place with more than 145 sponsorship deals. At the Washington Pride Parade in June, the organization partnered with the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority and the Washington Commanders, which both had floats at the event. The Washington Wizards land in third with over 140 deals. One memorable recent activation saw Flagship Car Wash do a game time “parachute drop,” which were attached to gifts for fans in attendance.  

Open opportunities abound in the Capital City. None of DC’s five major pro sports teams have a sponsor in the Construction & Architecture Firms category—presenting a prime opportunity for local brands like McKenzie Contracting to explore an inaugural major pro sports partnership. Red Bull also seems like another obvious contender, while the energy drink titan partners with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Colorado Rockies, no energy drink brand currently sponsors a major pro sports team in Washington. The Consumer Products category is another conspicuous absence, making Apple–which sponsors teams elsewhere in the US–a likely candidate to fill the void in DC.

The Wizards dominate the list of Washington’s rights holders on social media, with over 8.4M followers and 1.2M in total branded engagement. In the second spot with 5.1M followers, the Commanders also boast the most engaging post among DC properties: its Instagram post with the Maryland Lottery, which engaged 69K users. The Washington Capitals round out the top three, with 2.9M followers and total branded engagement of 1.5M.

Summerfest—held annually in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—has earned the “World’s Largest Music Festival” title from the Guinness Book of World Records. And for good reason: the massive festival, which spans three consecutive weekends from June 22-July 8, features over 1,000 acts on 12 stages, as well as food, drinks, shopping, and activities for all ages. As the mega-event kicks off today, let’s take a look at the city’s current sponsorship market.

Given Milwaukee’s nickname as the “Brew City” thanks to its rich beer history, it’s no surprise that Miller Lite—a marquee tipple of the Miller Brewing Company, which has operated there since 1855—tops the list of brands with the most sponsorships in the market, at 11 deals. The Milwaukee-based Gruber Law Offices LLC ties with Pepsi for second place with nine partnerships, while American Family Insurance (Summerfest’s presenting sponsor), Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, WE Energies, and Gatorade share the #3 spot with seven deals each.

MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers reign supreme among Milwaukee rights holders with 96 deals, U.S. Cellular and Toyota among them. The American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals trails closely behind with 93 sponsorships, while 2021 NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, takes the 3rd spot with 78 deals, including BMO Harris Bank and Michelob Ultra. Open opportunities abound for brands to partner with both the Bucks and the Brewers: astonishingly, neither team has a current deal in the high-profile Beer (Import & Domestic), Car Manufacturers (Luxury), and Airline categories.  

On the social media front, the Milwaukee market boasts 4.7M in total engagement, of which 3.4M—a whopping 72%—belongs to the Milwaukee Bucks. Predictably, the Bucks also dominate social media among the city’s properties, clocking in with 11.6M followers. The 2021 NBA Champions’ Instagram post last October 22 with Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, highlighting Giannis Antetokounmpo as Player of the Game, generated 65K impressions, making it Milwaukee’s most engaging social post of the last 12 months.

The 123rd US Open tees off today at the Los Angeles Country Club, where the world’s best golfers will hit the links in pursuit of the $17.5M purse–the largest of all four major championships. In honor of the storied annual tournament, let’s take a look at the dynamic sponsorship market in this glittering, high-octane West Coast city.

Pepsi and Toyota lead the list of brands with the most sponsorship deals in the City of Angels with over 25 each, followed by Michelob Ultra with more than 20 sponsorships. Adidas, Bud Light, Coca-Cola, Nike, UCLA Health, Verizon, and Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel round out the top 10.

The USC Trojans take the top spot on the properties roster with more than 100 sponsorship deals, just ahead of the LA Angels and Natural Products Expo West, both with north of 90 sponsorships. Comprising the rest of the top 10 are the LA Chargers, Anaheim Ducks, LA Rams, LA Kings, LA FC, Cal State Fullerton Titans, and LA Dodgers, in that order.

With 56.9M total followers, the LA Lakers, arguably the city’s premier pro sports franchise, dominate social media among properties in the market, having generated 13.8M in branded engagement across all platforms this year. A co-branded Instagram post by Verizon and Coachella on April 15th scored the highest engagement on social media so far in 2023, at 1.3M.

The major pro sports landscape in the U.S. is constantly evolving to adapt to the ever-changing demands of fans, athletes, and stakeholders. Most recently, the Oakland Athletics announced plans to head to Las Vegas, home of the Golden Knights NHL team since 2017; other young expansion teams include the Seattle Kraken (NHL), Charlotte FC (MLS), and St. Louis SC (MLS).

Known for its vibrant sports culture and enthusiastic fanbase, Orlando has set its sights on luring an MLB franchise by enticing team owners with its growing population, thriving tourism industry, and state-of-the-art sports facilities. Orlando’s prime location in the heart of Florida makes it easily accessible to fans from across the state and beyond, further enhancing its appeal.

Which brands might jump on the chance to partner with a new MLB team in the sunny city? Here’s our list:

Most Active Brands in Orlando:

  1. AdventHealth
  2. Orlando Utilities Commission
  3. Pepsi
  4. Orlando Health
  5. Florida Blue
  6. Bud Light
  7. Coca-Cola
  8. GEICO
  9. Publix
  10. Budweiser

Meanwhile, Connecticut hopes to woo an NHL team to the Constitution State, capitalizing on the Arizona Coyotes’ uncertain future. With the team facing relocation, Connecticut is promoting its rich hockey tradition, passionate fanbase, and a market hungry for professional hockey to entice the franchise. The state’s strategic East Coast location draws on a large population base, a strong foundation for building a dedicated fan following. With no current major pro sports team in Connecticut, local brands, including those on our list below, would likely jump on the opportunity to grow their national profile with an NHL team.

Most Active Brands in Hartford & New Haven, CT:

  1. Hartford Healthcare
  2. Dunkin’
  3. Travelers
  4. M&T Bank
  5. Nike
  6. Pepsi
  7. Maritime Chevrolet
  8. Liberty Bank
  9. Avelo Airlines
  10. AARP Connecticut

The Seattle Kraken’s inaugural 2021 season serves as a prime example that a team entering a new market could replicate. The franchise inked an impressive 71 sponsorships in its NHL debut,18 of which aimed to engage the local Seattle community–signaling the team’s commitment to cultivating its hometown fan base. The other 53 deals targeted a broader national audience, underscoring the Kraken’s ambition to establish a formidable presence on a countrywide scale.

Thirty-three sponsors were companies headquartered in the Seattle market, including 14 national brands–most notably Amazon, which inked a venue naming rights deal for the team’s home, christening it the Climate Pledge Arena in a nod to the urgent need for climate action.The high-profile partnership cemented the Kraken’s status as a force to be reckoned with in the NHL.

The 2023 MLS season kicked off last Saturday (2/25) with big news: not only did the league just announce a $2.5B blockbuster broadcasting deal with Apple TV, but it’s also welcoming a new franchise–St. Louis City SC, which will face off against Austin FC in the team’s inaugural home match this Saturday. In honor of the city’s place in the pro sports spotlight this weekend, let’s take a closer look at the sponsorship landscape in the Gateway City.

St. Louis offers sponsorship opportunities across various avenues from 3 major pro sports teams (MLB, MLS, NHL), to colleges, marathons, and festivals (just to name a few). With 9 deals, Budweiser leads the list of brands actively buying sponsorships in Missouri’s 2nd-biggest city and the 26th largest market in the US by population. It comes at no surprise the AB brand leads STL in deals since the city is also the brand’s official HQ. In terms of traditional media (TV & radio only), midwest-based home improvement company Menards, leads the way with 13 deals, trailed by broadband connectivity giant Spectrum with 11. Brands active in the St. Louis market favor purchasing in-venue assets with the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues.

Ahead of its first home match, St. Louis City partnered with Together Credit Union as the team’s Official Debit Card, SeatGeek as primary and secondary Ticketing Partner, and Nestlé Purina PetCare as Jersey Patch sponsor.

With a combined following of 7.1M, the Cardinals and Blues dominate the “Gateway to the West” social space. The Cardinals engaged 470K fans with more than 130 sponsorship deals during the 2022 season, followed closely by the Blues with 450K engagements and north of 115 partnerships this season. Notable social standouts in the St. Louis market include former Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright.

While luxury car brands are active in the NHL–Lexus, for example, sponsors 13 league franchises–however the Blues currently lack a high-end auto partner, as do the Cardinals. Another semi-conspicuous absence in their respective endorsement portfolios: FinTech, a category where 33 brands have sponsorship deals with major pro sports teams, but not one in St. Louis. The Blues have a TV deal with 5-Hour Energy, one of 18 energy drink brands with a media or sponsorship deal in the big leagues. Time will tell if an official energy drink sponsor lies in the team’s future.

NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off tomorrow in Salt Lake City, marking the 30th anniversary of the last NBA All-Star Game played in Utah’s capital. Kia, a NBA partner since 2008, will be the game’s presenting sponsor.

The Salt Lake City market provides opportunities for brands to buy sponsorships across various different leagues. With 13 deals, Coca-Cola leads the list of brands actively buying sponsorships in Salt Lake City, the 24th largest market in the US by population.

In traditional media (TV & radio only), Ford Motor Company and Toyota claim the top spot with 7 deals each. Personal injury law firm Siegfried & Jensen earns the #2 spot with 6 partnerships, and Smith’s Food and Drug and Hyundai Motor tie for third place with 5.

With 9.2M followers, the NBA’s Utah Jazz presents a singular opportunity for brands eager to capitalize on the team’s social media clout. The NBA team has secured 65+ sponsorships this season, engaging 1M fans and growing its followers by 17% year over year. Other properties with notable social followings in the SLC market include KSL 5 Utah (News Sation), SpaceStation Gaming (Esports), and Real Salt Lake (MLS).

Kia is the official vehicle of the NBA Playoffs, NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and the NBA Draft. The South Korean carmaker also serves as a presenting partner of TNT’s “Inside the NBA," and as the title partner for the Kia NBA monthly awards and end-of-season performance awards. Seven of Kia’s top 10 partners (ranked by total assets) are NBA properties.

All eyes will be on Salt Lake City Sunday evening, as the 2023 Kia NBA All-Star MVP is awarded the Kobe Bryant Trophy. Other titles up for grabs during the weekend include the AT&T Slam Dunk Champion, Starry 3-Point Contest Champion, Kia Skills Challenge Champion, Clorox Rising Stars MVP, Clorox Clutch Challenge Champion, and the Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP.

Through its partnership with the NBA and its teams, Kia generated a social media engagement of 376K across 211 posts. The LA Clippers–who will be represented by eight-time All-Star Paul George–engaged 142K people with 70 Kia-sponsored posts. Overall, the NBA is responsible for 8% of Kia’s total social engagement. There’s no doubt millions of basketball fans will engage across social media during Salt Lake City’s star-studded NBA weekend.

With the NFL Draft in Las Vegas, Nevada throughout the weekend, many brands headquartered in the city have been actively buying sponsorship or media. With over 350 total deals in the top 10 alone, there are plenty of possibilities to connect with a brand headquartered in the city. SponsorUnited has compiled a list of the brands most active, which are they?

  • Rockstar Energy Drink
  • WynnBet
  • MGM Resorts International
  • Las Vegas Tourism
  • Allegiant Air
  • Universal Windows Direct
  • Credit One Bank
  • Resorts World Las Vegas
  • Aria Resorts & Casino
  • Caesars Entertainment

Rockstar Energy Drink leads the way with over 70 deals while each brand on the list has over 15. Although headquartered in Las Vegas, the brand seeks partnerships across the United States and even globally with deals in Canada as well as Germany.

Signing one of the largest deals of the group was Allegiant Air, securing Venue Naming Rights for the Las Vegas Raiders when their stadium opened. The stadium is now known as Allegiant Stadium. Along with Naming Rights the brand has over 25 sponsorship assets with the team including Club Naming Rights, App Presenting Sponsor, Entertainment Related Content among many more.

Sign up for SponsorUnited Weekly Newsletter
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.